GMHBA Healthy Community Grants

Category: Community

The GMHBA Healthy Community Grants program began in 2014 as a way for us to support innovative health-focused programs across the greater Geelong region. Throughout 2017, three organisations are undertaking projects that improve the health and wellbeing of the local community.

We visited these organisations recently to learn more about their projects and to see them in action.

Get Your Granny On in Leopold

Leopold Community & Learning Centre has been welcoming members of the local community into the centre to teach and learn “granny” skills through their Get Your Granny On project.

Participants who sign up to the workshops have had the opportunity to learn a whole range of skills including jam and sauce making. One of the participants, Amanda Miggins was excited to learn new skills that help to improve sustainability, “The fact that we can actually learn the skills that have been lost…is amazing”.

During our visit, a group of eager students (of all ages) were learning the art of cheese making. Simon Schoonerman is the resident cheese maker who takes great delight in passing on his skills to a new audience “The most rewarding part is when people come up to me after they’ve made their cheese and say ‘it’s absolutely beautiful!’”.

Another element of Get Your Granny On is the fruit tree register. The aim is to have all fruit tree owners in Leopold register so that any excess fruit can be collected, turned into jams and preserves and shared amongst the community. The register even uncovered an heirloom apple variety growing in a local backyard.

Through teaching granny skills the project has helped to encourage sustainability and to make the most of the produce grown. Just as importantly, the program and Centre more broadly is creating social connection and creating a real sense of community.

If you would like to find out more or get involved visit leopoldcommunitycentre.com.au.

The Barwon Stroke Support Centre

The Stroke Association of Victoria is on a mission to improve the health outcomes of stroke survivors in the Barwon region and is doing this by establishing the Barwon Stroke Support Centre. On the day of our visit, the team and a host of volunteers were busy getting ready for the official launch of the centre which will provide a range of community-based support services for stroke survivors.

In Victoria alone there are over 100,000 people living with the effects of stroke. The Centre is a hub for stroke survivors who have moved from the acute rehabilitation phase of their recovery and require further support as they transition back into the community. Survivors and volunteers can share their stories and experiences in an open and welcoming environment and participate in a number of different activities that build social, physical and emotional skills. Chris Davison who is a carer for his wife (a stroke survivor) said of the Centre, “I think it’s got a big place to play in terms of supporting people emotionally.”

Stroke survivor Lyn Carter has been impressed by the overwhelming sense of warmth and inclusion at the Centre: “I think what’s lovely is you’re coming into a house. You’ve been so much involved with hospital that when you walk in they say ‘have a cup of coffee and sit down’ and you think ‘this is just like home’”, Lyn said.

The Centre plays an important role in helping stroke survivors to connect back in with the community. As Carly Stephens the coordinator of the Centre said, “The people that have been living with stroke for 28 years have said there was nothing like this for them back then and it left them feeling really isolated.”

The Barwon Stroke Support Centre is only a stone’s throw away from the South Geelong train station making it easy to access for those travelling from far away. The roadshow, supported by a GMHBA Healthy Community Grant, will help to promote the services of the Centre to clinicians throughout the Barwon South West region all the way through to Warrnambool.

More information about the Barwon Stroke Support Centre can be found at strokeassociation.com.au.

Strive 2 Thrive

There is a 50% reduction of cancer recurrence in those that exercise so it’s no wonder that the Geelong-based Strive 2 Thrive program is such a success. Strive 2 Thrive is the brainchild of oncologist Karen White and McGrath Breast Care Nurses Susan Bowles and Barb Cummins. The trio started the program seven years ago when they noticed that patients often struggled to get back into physical activity after they had completed their cancer treatment.

As Dr White said, “Many people think being diagnosed with cancer and being told that news is the hard bit, it’s actually not. It’s actually not the surgery and it’s not the chemotherapy. It’s the time when it’s finished. To come into Strive 2 Thrive at that point, is a point of rebuilding your life.”

Fast forward to today and over 300 people have participated in the 12 week exercise program and the GMHBA Healthy Community Grant is going to help them take it to the next level. Physical activity is the main focus of the program as participants work through their recovery but equally as important is the social connection which is why each session finishes with a walk and a coffee at a local café. Strive 2 Thrive has used the grant to employ a nurse coordinator who will manage the program as well as measure outcomes such as biometrics and quality of life pre and post program. A further aim of the grant is to promote the program to a wider audience in the hope of replicating it in other regions across Victoria.

Participant, Stephanie Hurley has praised the program, “It’s getting on with life and being able to move forward without cancer hanging over you is really hard. And I didn’t realise that, but I really believe that the positivity you gain from Strive 2 Thrive, for me, is going to stop me from regressing.” 

The program is going from strength to strength. The program’s gym coordinator Fiona Macdonald reflects, “Every day we see amazing things, people achieving their goals.”